Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (6) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.Could he be the Packers’ first round selection in this month’s draft? Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The third to last edition of the FanSided 2013 NFL Mock Draft has been released.
The fine folks over at FanSided.com do a new mock draft every week right up until the actual draft in April, and we at LombardiAve.com have plenty of offseason information to pass along to our readers. Many of the players we’ve mentioned in previous mock draft posts are making their final impressions on NFL teams, and we’ll get a good opportunity to eyeball them once again and evaluate their performance.
Draft positions have been set. Barring a trade, the Green Bay Packers will make their first selection with the 26th pick.
Analysis: While much of the talk is about Florida State’s athletic offensive tackle Menelik Watson, Armstead is flying up boards and could be a surprise pick in the first round thanks to his unbelievable performances at the combine and Pro Day. Armstead’s upside is unbelievable and he should find a home in the top 40 picks if the run starts early enough.
To understand where this pick goes wrong, let’s travel back to 2010. That’s the year Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell put on a show at the combine. Campbell shot up through mock drafts following his 4.85 second 40-yard dash and 34 reps on the bench. The Oakland Raider jokes were endless.
The problem for Campbell, as it very well could be for Armstead, is his tape didn’t match his workout hype. For offensive linemen, having great speed and upper body strength doesn’t mean as much as lower body strength, technique, and the ability to lower one’s center of gravity by bending. NFL teams understand this, which is why Campbell remained on the board until the fourth round. (He was drafted by Oakland though – Al Davis was predictable and bad his last few years).
Similarly, Armstead’s tape doesn’t match his workout hype. He struggled sustaining blocks and seemed lost when reaching the second level. Armstead also doesn’t exploit his athletic advantages against finesse rushers. It’s unlikely that Armstead will be able to start for a few years, and that’s if he develops proper technique. Accordingly, this isn’t a direction I expect the Packers to go.
Syracuse Orange offensive tackle Justin Pugh (67) during the third quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
If the Packers are to draft an offensive tackle, and the surefire first-rounders like D.J. Fluker are off the board, a more interesting prospect is Justin Pugh of Syracuse. Pugh has been projected by some as a guard due to his height (6-4) and arm length (32 inches), but Pugh possesses the elite skills and experience teams look for in left tackles. Pugh became the starting left tackle his freshman year, and held the position for three years. Pugh came out with a year of eligibility left, but with all the snaps he has under his belt that shouldn’t be a problem. Pugh compares well to former All-Pro Brad Hopkins, a 13-year starter who overcame his physical “limitations.”
Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (6) catches a touchdown pass. Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Another interesting player that may be settling into the back of the first round is Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is a shifty, well-built receiver with very good football speed and a knack for coming down with the ball. While Green Bay has a deep receiving group, James Jones is in the last year of his deal. Like Jones, Hopkins uses his strength and change of direction to get open, especially in the red zone.
Hopkins hauled in 18 touchdowns his senior year at Clemson, more than most receivers catch in their entire college career. While it’s unlikely that Hopkins will be able to reproduce that kind of scoring, he should be able to break many big plays. His senior year, he led Clemson with 17.1 yards per catch.
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy (42) carries the ball past Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
The final prospect that bears mentioning is running back Eddie Lacy. Throughout the draft process, I’ve held to my belief that there’s no running back worthy of a first round selection.
That hasn’t changed.
So why bring up Lacy? The Alabama product is finally set to work out for NFL teams later this week. The big concern with Lacy is that he might be too similar to former college teammate Mark Ingram in that his speed and change of direction are well below elite and will cause problems on the next level. If Lacy shows well in the speed drills, some team may pick him late in the first. I still suspect Green Bay won’t be that team, but if we’ve learned anything from Ted Thompson’s drafts it’s that anything’s possible.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Lombardi Ave. He has previously written for Hail to the Orange, College Hoops Net, Mocking the Draft, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.